May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and at a time when 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, there’s never been a better time to make a difference as a volunteer. Here are a few ideas for helping those in our community affected by mental illnesses.
Tackle the Stigma.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness states that “the first step is helping us stop the stigma against mental health.” They ask readers to take the stigma-free pledge and offer a number of different ways to get involved and inspire others. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America focuses their efforts on helping the more than 60 million people in the US struggling with mental illness. Here you can find help for yourself or a family member or friend, and take action in your community to help raise awareness. They also have a website specifically designed to educate the public about mental health during the month of May.
Learn. Advocate. Volunteer.
If you have a family member or friend affected by Alzheimer’s disease, you know how quickly life can change for the patient, and their immediate family. Even the simplest tasks can become overwhelming challenges. As an Alzheimer’s Association volunteer, you can help this community by participating in local events, advocating for research funding and improved patient care, or volunteering directly with the organization. You can also download educational resources and find help and support. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that early and accurate diagnosis could save up to $7.9 trillion in care and medical costs.
Spread the word about LBD.
Lewy body dementia (LBD) is a progressive brain disorder in which proteins build up in areas of the brain that regulate behavior, cognition, and movement. Because LBD symptoms often mimic diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, it is widely underdiagnosed. Yet nearly 1.4 million Americans and their families are affected. You can learn more about LBD here, and team up with the Lewy Body Dementia Association as a volunteer.
Make a difference, one-on-one.
If you’re looking to make a difference on a more personal basis, there are multiple volunteer opportunities to help those struggling with mental illness—some, without even leaving your home. One such organization, the Crisis Text Line, provides comprehensive training to help you prepare. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline is another national organization that offers volunteer opportunities to make a life-saving difference. And if you want to make an impact in your own town, you can always contact your local senior center to seek out volunteer opportunities that match your talents and schedule.
To find more volunteer opportunities in your area, use this simple volunteer search and keyword "mental health."